Senators introduce bill to halt EPA takeover of water

Source: Office of U.S. Sen. John Barasso

U.S. Senators John Barrasso, R-Wyo.; David Vitter, R-La.; Mike Enzi, R-Wyo.; Pat Roberts, R-Kan.; Roy Blunt, R-Mo.; Mike Johanns, R-Neb.;, Ted Cruz, R-Texas; and 23 other senators introduced legislation to stop the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from taking over private and state water in the United States. The Protecting Water and Property Rights Act of 2014 prevents the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) from finalizing their March 2014 proposed rule which would significantly expand federal authority under the Clean Water Act (CWA).

“The EPA is trying every scheme they can think of to take control of all water in the United States. This time, their unprecedented federal water grab is in the form of a rule that will hurt family farms, ranches, and small businesses by imposing outrageous permitting fees and compliance costs,” said Barrasso. “If this rule goes forward, it will severely restrict homeowners and individual landowners in Wyoming and across the country from making local land and water use decisions. A majority of Congress already rejected the EPA’s first attempt to make this rule a reality. We will continue to do everything possible to permanently eliminate this rule and protect water rights across America.”

“EPA’s proposed Waters of the U.S. rule is a thinly veiled attempt to greatly expand the federal government’s control over ditches, floodplains, and other areas where water flows.  Their proposal would cause considerable economic pain and enable government bullying,” said Vitter. “Senator Barrasso’s bill will ensure the continued and necessary protection of our natural resources while safeguarding the private property rights of American families, farmers, and small businesses.”

“In Wyoming, water is sacred and an integral part of our lives. We will fight any attempt by the federal government to have complete control of our water rights and dictate what we can or cannot do with water on our private property,” said Enzi.

“After already calling on the EPA and Army Corps to withdraw the proposed rule, I want to make sure that the expansion of regulatory jurisdiction over ‘Waters of the United States’ is shelved for good,” said Roberts. “This straightforward legislation prohibits the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency and the secretary of the Army from finalizing the rule or trying a similar regulation in the future.”

“This is another brazen power grab, which would have a devastating impact on Missouri farm families and serious implications for productive activities like the construction of homes, businesses, roads, and even the development of energy,” said Blunt. “I’m working with my colleagues to stop the EPA and Corps from finalizing this proposed rule, and I will keep fighting attempts to control Americans’ private properties.”

“This proposed rule amounts to a massive power grab by EPA, which has demonstrated time and again that it is out of touch and out of control,” said Johanns. “Imposing more regulatory burdens on American families and job creators is the last thing we need from an administration that has repeatedly pushed the envelope beyond congressional authority. The EPA needs to scrap this proposed rule and refocus its efforts within the boundaries set by Congress.”

“The EPA’s unilateral expansion of the Clean Water Act to include regulation of puddles and temporarily flooded areas is an abuse of power that would allow the EPA march into the backyards of many Americans,” said Cruz. “Congress must exercise its power to strictly define what the EPA may do under the Clean Water  Act to protect our nation’s landowners, farmers, and homeowners from undue harassment by the EPA.”

The American Farm Bureau Federation officially endorsed the Protecting Water and Property Rights Act of 2014:

“The EPA/COE proposal raises serious questions. As a constitutional matter, the agencies are asserting an authority not granted them by Congress; in fact, the chairman of the House Committee on Transportation recently called for bipartisan support to prevent Congress from ceding such authority to the agency. As a practical matter, it will mean increased enforcement against farmers, greater expenses for permitting, potential delays in managing their operations, and the unquestioned exposure of legal liability attendant with lawsuits from activists. Your legislation seeks to prevent such an outcome and deserves strong, bipartisan support. We applaud your leadership in this effort and will continue to work with you in preventing this regulation from being promulgated,” said the American Farm Bureau Federation in their letter of endorsement.

The legislation is also co-sponsored by Senators Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.; John Cornyn, R-Texas; John Thune, R-S.D; Jim Risch, R-Idaho; Marco Rubio, R-Fla.; Mike Crapo, R-Idaho; Roger Wicker, R-Miss.; Jim Inhofe, R-Okla.; Tom Coburn, R-Okla.; Jeff Sessions, R-Ala.; Pat Toomey, R-Pa.; Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa; John Boozman, R-Ark.; Deb Fischer, R-Neb.; Orrin Hatch, R-Utah; Rand Paul, R-Ky.; Johnny Isakson, R-Ga.; Dean Heller, R-Nev., Thad Cochran, R-Miss.; Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga.; John Hoeven R-N.D.; Mike Lee, R-Utah; and Richard Burr, R-N.C.